Health and safety guidelines for owners of equine businesses

Owners of horse riding establishments and livery stables will be aware that there are considerable risks involved when working with horses. As a result, it is crucial that employers in such establishments respect laws designed to protect their employees from coming to physical or psychological harm, such as the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. Enshrined within this law is the requirement for employers to protect the health, safety and wellbeing of all staff members. Specialist work accident solicitors can help should they fail to do so.

Horse riding establishments and livery stables are not always run like your average business with a mixture of family members, friends and paying customers often caring for, training and/or riding horses on the premises. Both employees and non-employees are however protected under health and safety laws and the employer’s responsibilities are essentially the same for both groups (under Sections 3 and 4 of the 1974 Act). Ultimately, all are exposed to the risks posed by unpredictable and powerful horses, so both require protection.

Whilst there are bound to be some injuries involved when working with or riding horses, these can be kept to a minimum by establishing effective health and safety practices and complying with relevant legislation. This will require regular and thorough risk assessment which should cover the following:

• Identification of the hazards present and the risk they pose

• Identification of who could end up injured as a result of the hazards and what those injuries might be

• An evaluation of the precautions which must be taken to prevent the risk

• Recording and implementation of findings

• Identification of any safeguards or protective equipment which may need to be purchases in light of the findings

Only in very rare circumstances will it be acceptable to ignore a risk identified in the workplace. If the costs of removing or guarding against the hazard are grossly disproportional to the risk posed by the hazard itself, then it may be considered OK not to address it without breaching the legal duty of care to one’s employees.

Injured working with horses? Call the Work Accident Solicitors

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